CAO #001: Putting arts at the heart of business

Artworks’ editor in chief Dominic Rodgers explains the concept behind the chief arts officer campaign, and how it is developing

2 min read

Not being able to see the wood for the trees is something a lot of businesses suffer from. They are too focused on achieving their objectives that they don’t take a step back or think enough about how they are doing things and why.

People who practise the arts are constantly thinking about these elements and are equally focused on delivery. The elements are intrinsic. Having a chief arts officer will help to change the use of the arts from an additional aspect of a business, into a core component that emanates through every other part of the business, just as finance, operations, marketing or technology do.

As part of the wider group, with other areas of focus, we believe that a chief arts officer would add huge value to the communications, culture and creativity of a business.

The concept involves appointing someone at managerial level who has responsibility for taking artistic opportunities or points of view in every facet of the business. This could be from an external perspective, through marketing or public relations, or internally through office design, collaboration, and personal development and wellbeing, but also operationally through integrity, ethics, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and partnerships.

The arts have a place at the very heart of business, not just at the periphery. The world’s leading arts institutions all have business people working to help them succeed. We have no doubt that the world’s leading businesses in any field would benefit from a chief arts officer.

In the first edition of Artworks Journal, published in May 2013, there is a compelling case study by Professor Ariane Berthoin Antal that shows how an artistic intervention benefited a leading Scandinavian company and Tom Tresser, suggests seven ways to integrate creativity into business leadership. These two articles begin to show what a chief arts officer – or CAO – could achieve and how.

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